In this age of texting, tweeting, abbreviations, and excessive use of emojis, writing an effective email has become a bit of a lost art. As someone who gets hundreds of emails a day, I see so many poorly written pitches and email requests that I felt compelled to write this post as a public service announcement. Emails are not urgent communication. While the act of sending an email is instantaneous, that does not mean the response will be the response. It may take a really busy person a few days to respond to your message. So I would wait at least a week to send a follow-up. I want to teach my readers to send an effective email to anyone.
What constitutes a bad email?
Bad emails often have several of these elements: they are curt, full of typos and grammar mistakes, entirely too informal, have aggressive tone, too many confusing details, too long, or have too many people copied. If you don’t want to send out emails that get ignored or chip away at your credibility, follow the advice in this post and keep these rules in mind forevermore.
Every email you send should be well-written, friendly, and serve the intended purpose to educate, make an introduction or make a request. Effective emails are clear and concise and written in a way that saves time for both the reader and the recipient. Considering that time is money—keep this in mind. There are also times when email is not good to communicate via email.
When is it appropriate to send email?
You should send an email when you have a simple request of someone you know or are looking for a way to establish a relationship with a potential contact or are nurturing a relationship with a sales lead. It’s also effective to introduce or reconnect with someone. If an email exchange has gone back and forth twice, instead of sending a third email pick up the phone or schedule a meeting to talk.
Here are a few more scenarios when it makes sense to send an email.
- You need to get in touch with a person who is hard to reach.
- You need to send someone an electronic file, such as a link to media, a spreadsheet full of data, or a rough draft of a document.
- You need to distribute information to a large number of people quickly.
- You need a written record of a phone call or meeting. Often you might need to recap what was discussed so that everyone is on the same page.
Getting people to actually read your emails is more art than skill. If you don’t want your communication to be ignored or end up in a spam folder follow these 15 tips to craft and send effective emails.
- SUBJECT LINES ARE IMPORTANT
Your subject line is a key to get someone to open your email, but please do not clickbait people with a subject line that does not relate to the content of the email. This is a great way to aggravate a potential customer or colleague who you’re trying to engage to respond to your request or your sales offer.
- PERSONALIZE YOUR CORRESPONDENCE
Do you like it when someone calls your name or is it better if they say, “Hey you?” It works the same for email. Use the recipient’s name in the first line of the email. If you’re concerned this will take too much time, consider this: Would you like to work with someone who hasn’t even bothered to learn your name? I don’t think so.
- USE BULLET POINTS
No one wants to read long paragraphs in an email. Use bullet points to make it much easier for the recipient to understand your request quickly. This is especially important when you are reaching out to someone when you do not have a personal relationship. If there a call to action or deadline in the email, highlight it in bold or use the app MixMax.com so you can add a colorful button for the link right in your email copy.
- KEEP IT BRIEF
No one has the time to read a seven-paragraph email, so don’t write something like that. Stick to no more than 6-8 sentences, keep your emails to no more than six to eight sentences, and only include relevant facts. Embed any links, no one wants to download attachments. If you need to write a super long email, pick the phone and have a conversation instead.
- KEEP IT TO ONE TOPIC
Stick to one topic per email. If you are sending a follow-up email stay on the topic. Only include one call to action or request. When you introduce more than one topic, the target of your email can’t figure out what the top priority is, and they can’t respond quickly. Keep things straightforward and try not to waste people’s time.
- ALWAYS PROOFREAD YOUR EMAILS
Use spellcheck or try the Grammarly app to proofread your copy. Sending out an email with typos, misspelled words, and poor grammar makes you look bad. Take the extra minute to use spellcheck to proofread the email. Or just read it one more time out loud before hitting send.
- MAKE IT EASY TO ACCESS ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
You should always embed a link to any attachment, video or landing page in your emails, especially if you are asking for a recommendation. Just give the link in the email. No one wants to download anything. It will make it easier for the recipient to access information in just one click. if you don’t give your prospective customers the right information on a silver platter, they won’t bother to look for it.
- NEVER SEND AN EMAIL WHEN ANGRY
Just like you should never drunk dial, sending an angry email is never appropriate. You always want to keep your emails factual and not emotional. If you need to write the email, do so in a word document, so you don’t hit send by accident. Sleep on it and revisit the concern when you calm down.
- START WITH A GREETING
Always open an email with a friendly greeting. You can’t go wrong mentioning the weather or the week’s events. Try one of these examples, “Happy Tuesday” or “I hope you survived that big rainstorm we had yesterday” or “I hope you had a restful weekend.” You should close your emails on a happy note as well, “Enjoy your evening” or “Have a great weekend.”
- WATCH YOUR TONE
The tone of an email is difficult to assess, but more often than not, the reader will assign a tone, even when one was not intended. Be careful not to craft an email in anger or use sarcasm. Too many exclamation marks in an email may be perceived as sounding excited, but one could also read the exclamation marks as being frustrated, etc. Watch how you use capitalization too and do not use inflammatory words, etc.
- AVOID EMOJIS
NEVER use emojis in a work email, save those for a quick email or text to a close friend.
- DON’T JUST RESPOND, BE CORDIAL
People are connected 24/7 and respond to emails from their smartphone or a computer, take the time to greet people in the emails. Try something like “Hi Bob, Thanks for your email……”
- SEND A FRESH EMAIL, DON’T JUST ADD TO THE EMAIL CHAIN
Sometimes it’s more effective to send a fresh email, so it rises to the top of your intended target’s email box. If you just reply to an existing email chain, your new email message can get buried and possibly missed. Also, you can just pick up the telephone and have a conversation and settle an issue versus hours of back-and-forth emails.
- MAKE IT ABOUT THEM
If you are drafting a sales pitch email, tell them that you understand their pain, how you were just like them, and then break down what they can gain from working with you, and what benefits are waiting for them. Be sure to mention any discount offers that expire within a short time to make the offer urgent. Be persuasive but not pushy – you don’t want to scare them off into the arms of your competition. Every customer wants great value for their money, so if you are pitching a high-dollar offer, be sure to explain your payment plan.
- IT’S A LEGAL RECORD
Remember, your email, your colleague’s email, even the vendor’s email is subject to a warrant should a contract dispute arise, or a lawsuit be filed. Thus, don’t put anything in an email that could compromise you or your company from a legal perspective.
These email marketing techniques can be applied in many ways. Clear communication always gets better results. Don’t leave the recipient of your email wondering what you want from them. Just think about the email messages you receive every day. Which grab your attention? Do you immediately delete emails that break these rules? If you put the suggestions into practice, you’ll have a better chance of getting what you want quickly, building great relationships. Here’s to better email.
Do you have an email best practice to share?